As the ol’ saying goes, it’s not how much you earn, but how much you save that matters. Taking action and making sacrifices today for a better, more comfortable tomorrow is important. Having a little something stashed away comes in very handy on a rainy day. We never know what the future holds; it’s always good measure to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. We hope to earn the same income as today, if not more, in the years to come, but sometimes, things don’t quite work out as expected. We hope that our pension funds provide us enough income to live a comfortable life in our old age, but inflation may have other plans. Of course, to beat inflation, investment is crucial, but the first step is saving or putting aside enough to get started.
So here are 10 easy-peasy ways to save more money without feeling the pinch:
1. Stretch your ingredients in the kitchen
Making the most use out of your ingredients helps to reduce waste and gives you more value for your money.
If you buy a load of bananas and they start to ripen faster than you can gulp them down, consider cutting them up and freezing them to make smoothies.
Herbs like coriander can wilt rather quickly. Once they seem like they’re heading south, salvage as much you can and blitz them up with some garlic and ginger. You can store this paste in the fridge for up to a week and add it to dry curries for an instant flavour boost.
Be creative with what you would usually throw away. For e.g. aquafaba (the liquid drained out of a can of chickpeas) can be used for simple vegan desserts such as chocolate mousse.
Small bits and pieces that we’re tempted to chuck away into the bin (e.g. tiny bits of garlic, carrot, or spring onion) can be stored in a small Tupperware in the fridge. Whip them out for a breakfast omelet.
2. Have the ingredients on hand to whip up a quick meal
Sometimes, the temptation to order take-out is just too high! There’s nothing wrong with take-out, of course, but they can be quite expensive. Having some ingredients on hand to whip up a super quick meal like wraps and eggs for egg rolls or soy sauce and oyster sauce for stir-fries can help to fight this temptation.
3. Reduce your power usage at home
Make it a point to switch off the lights, fan, and air-conditioner when you leave the room.
If your home gets a good amount of sunlight during the day, draw open the curtains and keep the lights off.
Set a timer on your air-conditioner before you go to bed.
4. Power of concentration
Fresh fruit juice from the carton is often emptied out quickly and can be pretty pricey to replenish frequently. Consider opting for cordial that can last you longer. Plus, you would also have more control over the sweetness of your drink.
Buying cleaning solutions for different uses (kitchen counter, dining table, coffee table, general surfaces, etc.) can quickly add up. Consider getting a big bottle of concentrated multi-purpose cleaning solution that you just need to dilute with water to clean a variety of different things.
5. Review your subscriptions
Is there something you’re subscribing to that you don’t get much use out of? Gym memberships and magazine subscriptions can cost a pretty penny. If you use it thoroughly and get your money’s worth, awesome! Otherwise, consider cancelling your subscription. Don’t consider this a failure. My husband and I signed up for a gym membership that we didn’t make much use of and so, we decided to quit the gym. Instead, we go for walks outside and do Zumba together at home. Some like the idea of going to a well-equipped gym while others may prefer the convenience of working out at home. To each their own, assess what works for you.
6. Review Internet and cable plans
How much do you pay for Internet and cable each month? Keep a lookout for good deals or better Internet plans for your home. With the rise of cost-effective online streaming platforms such as Netflix, cable TV is slowly losing its popularity. If you have a smart TV, you could cancel your cable package and just subscribe to Netflix for your entertainment needs.
7. Review your credit card statement monthly
A monthly credit card statement that summarises most of our expenditure can help us see where we’re spending excessively. With physical cash, it changes hands so quickly and it becomes difficult to track what goes where but with credit cards, everything is noted and compiled into a comprehensive statement at the end of the month.
Along with this major plus point comes a scary downside; it’s so easy to swipe your card for purchases! Apps such as Food Panda have the option of storing your credit card details so you can order food easily at the click of a button. You barely notice that you’re spending money until that statement comes in.
This might sound scary, but you don’t have to avoid credit cards like the plague. Having and managing a credit card actually creates a history of credit in your name and when you pay your bills promptly, you come across as a creditworthy borrower. This credit history could help you in loan applications down the line.
Importantly, make sure to pay your credit card bill on time. Otherwise, you'll incur interest charges. Depending on your bank, you might receive an email when your statement is ready. Check it out and pay up asap. If you're worried that you might forget, set a monthly reminder on your phone. Before paying, however, look through your statement and ensure there aren't any incorrect or double charges. If there are, contact your bank to correct any errors.
As you look through your statement, identify areas (if any) where you might be spending too much money and come up with a game plan. When reviewing last month's statement, I realised my husband and I were ordering way too much take-out during the lockdown, so we resolved to order delivery only 2 to 3 times a week. For the rest of our meals, we try to plan ahead and cook simple food at home.
8. Get creative when it comes to entertainment
My husband and I love Friday nights! We used to go out for dinner and catch a movie to celebrate the start of the weekend. Over time, we started to realise how expensive this Friday night routine actually was. Dinner at a nice restaurant, movie tickets, popcorn, and other snacks can really add up.
So, we decided to cut down on this expense to some extent. We do enjoy going to the movies, so we didn’t want to cut it out completely. Instead, we went to the movies every other week and in between, we’d have movie nights at home courtesy of Netflix. You could even do pot-luck style game nights with family or friends. Cutting down on expenses to save more doesn’t always have to be a drag. It just means we’ve got to get a little creative and find alternative ways to have an enjoyable time.
Whenever possible, DIY! Odds are it may work out to be cheaper.
Make your own peanut butter on a lazy Sunday afternoon. All you need are a bag of groundnuts, some oil, sugar, and salt. You can make it smooth or crunchy, natural or sweet, plain or flavoured, it’s completely up to you!
Bake a cake or cupcakes for your loved ones. There are tons of simple baking recipes available online to follow. Baking your own cake could work out to be cheaper than ordering one online and having it delivered to you. Plus, the fact that you baked it with love is an added bonus!
Play around with DIY face masks using items you find in your pantry. Give Priyanka Chopra's Ubtan Face Mask a try!
10. Look out for good deals or cheaper alternatives
Opt for water instead of pricey beverages at restaurants. You save money and cut down your sugar intake as well.
Consider getting produce or proteins that are on sale that week at your local grocer.
When it comes to food delivery apps, check out the current promotions offered and make use of them. Also, use filters to look up restaurants nearby with free delivery or cashback.
Use cashless payment options such as FavePay in Malaysia that give you discounts or cashback with selected merchants.
Scan sites such as Groupon or Fave for good deals on meals, mani/pedis, massages, etc.
So that’s 10 easy-peasy ways to save more money without much hassle. Pick a few that appeal to you and give them a try! Some of these steps are small, but they too can make a difference. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.” Start with the little things and sail on my friends!